I don’t want that big house we built for ourselves in England. I don’t want the bother of owning all these big houses and big cars. . . . I’ll cash in my chips, and anything that’s left I’ll make the best use of.
John Lennon (October 09, 1940 – December 08, 1980)
Señor Tao (April 17, 1948 -)
The cartoon above by Roz Chast appeared in the New Yorker magazine and reminded me of the excellent exposé by George Carlin on stuff. I have written about stuff and how much stuff is enough before but I am visiting the subject once again.
“Fiji sounded like the perfect place for you. Why did you ever leave?” My friend asked.
“I left because I no longer wanted to be responsible for someone else’s stuff.”
Sometimes I do not know the truth until I hear me telling it to myself. I did not realize the truth of the statement until those words came out of my mouth. Up to that moment I had told myself and others I left because it was time. I have always had a keen instinct for when it was time to leave a place, a job, or a relationship.
Although everyday living in the islands was inexpensive, the cost of having to leave the islands every four months in order to renew my tourist visa had exhausted my meager savings. I did take full advantage of the requirement however and visited many destinations in the South Pacific and Asia. Air travel was expensive as Fiji Air had a monopoly on air travel to and from the islands but I stretched my finances and social security as far as I could. I was not in the position to make the required financial investment to gain permanent residency or build a home so my departure was forthcoming in either case. I knew I could not stay forever on a tourist visa.
The truth, however, stands alone. I was tired of being responsible and was especially tired of being responsible for the stuff of others. It was time to leave.
I made many difficult decisions in my life to reduce the amount of stuff I am responsible for. I no longer wanted to work at a job I did not like in order to purchase and support more stuff I did not need. In coming to Fiji I knew I would be responsible for other people’s stuff as a landlord for the compound. It was a more than fair exchange for the two year period of time I agreed to. I also had no problem when the timeframe was extended for an additional year when the landowner delayed his retirement.
I looked forward to their arrival so I could turn over responsibility for the compound to them and live a more quiet life only responsible for my little cabin and me. This is how things played out in my mind at least, but the owners had planned a four month vacation to New Zealand and Australia soon after they arrived and had adopted the neighborhood dog. I would still be responsible for the property. I had an equal vote in matters concerning the compound but I saw the voting would mostly be two to one and not necessarily in my favor. I voted against adopting the dog, but they had already started to feed it so it was ours.
The handwriting was on the wall. It was time to leave. I no longer wanted to be responsible for someone else’s stuff. There were other factors involved. There always are but as I realize now I sought a life of fewer responsibilities in terms of my stuff and absolutely no responsibility for the stuff of others.
So when a friend recently asked me for her spare set of keys, which I had for three years in case of an emergency, to leave with her landlord during her stay in the US, there was an immediate feeling of relief. I was not aware at the time of any stress resulting from my possession of the keys but there was a definite relief.
Upon her return she asked if I wanted the keys back. I politely refused. I want no responsibility for any stuff other than my own. I love this life I live.